A hydrocele is a form of swelling in the scrotum whereby fluid collects in the thin sheath that surrounds a testicle. While this is common in babies, it is something that older boys and men can develop following inflammation and injury within the scrotum.
While they are not painful and may not require treatment, it is always advised that you seek specialist advice.
One of the first symptoms of a hydrocele is a painless swelling on one or both testicles. In adult men, it can cause a level of discomfort as the swelling can create a feeling of heaviness. If the swelling increases then it is possible that it can become painful while the swelling could be less during the morning than in the evening.
To diagnose the problem a specialist will need to carry out a physical exam where they will check for tenderness in the enlarged scrotum. They will also check the abdomen and scrotum to check whether there is an inguinal hernia while shining a light through the scrotum will enable them to check that there is clear fluid surrounding the testicle.
After a physical examination, a specialist might suggest blood and urine tests to rule out infection while an ultrasound will help to rule out a hernia, tumour or other causes of scrotal swelling.
If a hydrocele does not disappear on its own then surgery might be required to remove. Often, this is carried out as an outpatient procedure and a hyrdocelectomy is carried out under either general or regional anaesthesia. The surgeon will make an incision in the scrotum or the lower abdomen and then remove the hydrocele.
After surgery, in most cases, the patient can return home the same day. However, in some instances, a tube might be required to drain the fluid while a dressing will need to be worn for a few days. Your specialist is then likely to request a follow-up examination to ensure that everything has healed but to also make sure that it has not recurred.